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COLUMN: The blame game, part II

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By John Lapp

In last week’s column, it was presented that the blame game is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on since the days of Adam and Eve. Today, some blame all personal and even family problems on someone else, I guess with the goal of accepting little or no responsibility for their own choices of behavior and patterns of living that they have chosen.
In the more than 40 years of being a licensed practitioner in the fields of mental health and marriage and family counseling, I have heard some legitimate reports of inadequate childhood caretaking in the lives of those who have been under my care. However, I have also heard from many who have attempted to blame parents or others for almost everything that has caused this behavior, although a great number of these people left home and became basically independent 20-40 years ago. When, I thought to myself, will this “adult” (at least chronologically speaking) begin to accept responsibility for their own behavior and make the necessary changes to finally arrive emotionally and responsibly?
Yes, many do have a history of being raised in other than an “ideal” (whatever that means) childhood background, but the quicker we realize that we are responsible for ourselves and will become what we are capable of being, no matter what our backgrounds may include, the better our lives will be.
A second area of concern with the “blame game” is the often lifelong struggle of accepting that “I goofed up” or “I was wrong” or “I made a mistake” or the ultimate of adult responses: “I’m asking you to forgive me, I am truly sorry.”
I’m glad I don’t have an accurate count of how many times I have said words similar to that, and to this day I have never regretted doing that and do not feel that I have become less than a decent human being for being just that — human. I believe that there are people who feel that to admit to some wrongdoing means that they have lowered themselves to a level that they are ashamed of. The opposite of that is the real truth. A person who is willing to admit “I was wrong” as a fact of human nature is more respected.
In one of my previous columns, I stated that there is only one who could claim the distinction that he never had to say “I was wrong,” and we who have a Christian faith know who that is.
If there is one area of concern that I have routinely experienced in my counseling practice, it is the stubbornness of so many who will stand firm on a faulty belief that the marriage failed because the other partner did this or that. What follows is a long line of continuous fault on the part of the marriage partner. One of the things I have suggested is for the marriage partners regularly to ask each other, “How am I doing?” It’s sort of a check-up to be evaluated on your performance as a husband/wife. Be aware when you do this, the response may be other than you expected, so don’t prepare yourself for your defense to justify what has been the response from your partner when you ask for feedback.
That would certainly be better when it happens on a more than occasional basis, than to find out that there has been a problem for a long time of which you were not aware. There may be a risk in this matter if you react to the response given, but the risk is less than the actual reward for working on the changes that will enhance your marriage relationship.
That could even take place between a parent and a child in order to better the overall improvement in that relationship before it goes sour. (The child should, of course, be mature enough to understand the reason for this dialogue.)
This column, referred to as Part II, is not intended to be a comprehensive course in communication, but is a couple of worthwhile suggestions to keep the marriage or family in a healthy state. The overall program of regularly running to the blame game is irresponsible and needs to change in your life if this is an area of concern. By the way, others in your life will find it refreshing when this happens and it will enhance a healthy growth in your relationships.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear from some of our elected or appointed leaders the beautiful words (only if sincerely presented) “I’m truly sorry.” I believe that if sincerely presented, most of us are very capable of saying to ourselves, “I understand ... all of us have said or done wrong things, thank you for being honest enough to admit that.”
For more information, call 502-477-2818. May God bless you as you go about the business of your life.